An estate which supplies bananas to leading chain stores in South Africa allegedly got a farm worker fired over wearing ANC T-shirt and cap to work.
The farm worker fired over wearing ANC T-shirt to work Lucas Mzala Sibambo, was an employee of Umbhaba Estate near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga. He traced the beginning of his problems to when he was ordered to stop work by his supervisor because he was wearing an ANC T-shirt and cap.
Sibambo, who was a general worker at the estate said he was then taken to a manager on the farm Shane Plath, who informed him that there will be a disciplinary hearing against him for wearing ANC outfits.
Sibambo later discover at a disciplinary hearing a day after, on May 27 2014, that the company had also added additional charges of “being slow in discharging his duties and threatening his supervisor Wilson Shabangu.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) stepped into the matter and ordered Umbhaba Estate to pay Sibambo three months’ salary amounting to R7261.63 after it found that his dismissal “was procedurally unfair but substantively fair”.
However, Umbhaba neglected the order by the CCMA which led to the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), which represented Sibambo, instituting further action in the Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Towards the end of the same year, the Labour Court ordered the sheriff to attach the moveable goods of Umbhaba estate in the bid to recover the money owed to Sibambo. This follows the company’s failure to honour the CCMA order to pay Sibambo. Yet two years later, the farm worker fired over wearing ANC T-shirt has still not been paid.
“I have been waiting forever,” said Sibambo, adding that he never heard that wearing a political party T-shirt was against company rules and regulations.
Meanwhile, one of the witnesses brought forward by the company at the CCMA hearing, Horacios Amos Mabuza, said under cross-examination that he was aware of the rule that employees should not wear clothes bearing political party colours and flags to work. But another witness, also a supervisor, said he was not aware of such rule.
Fawu declared that they were now waiting for the Labour Court to set a date after Umbhaba appealed the ruling.
However, speaking for the Umbhaba Estate, spokesman Michael Cloete dismissed Sibambo’s allegations as unfounded, saying they were taking legal action.
“Mr Sibambo was not dismissed for wearing any type of T-shirt. His dismissal matter is still pending and subject to due process in the Labour Court. In short, he was dismissed for gross insubordination and leveling threats to other employees.”